Jax makes a suggestion about magic and Bran makes a very different suggestion.
Hastings – 1844
Bran was still sitting in his chair, gripping the arms of it so tight it was amazing they hadn’t shattered. Josef had pulled up a chair close enough his knees were pressing against Bran’s as he leaned towards him.
‘Are you in need of my magic?’ I asked.
Josef sat back. ‘Never say no.’
‘You shouldn’t say things like that.’ I straddled Bran’s lap. ‘How about we loosen this?’ I unfastened his cravat. His breathing steadied as my fingers worked their way down his shirt buttons to the top of his waistcoat.
‘That’s more than loosened,’ he murmured with a faint smile.
‘Ooops.’ I slipped my hands inside his shirt and caressed his chest. ‘Everything’s fine, Bran.’ I supposed, technically, everything was as fine as it could be but saying that wouldn’t help, it would make him worry about the gap between ‘as could be’ and ‘fine’.
Josef moved closer, Bran’s legs between his, his hands on my thighs, his face against the curve of my neck. That had quite a different effect on Bran’s heartbeat.
‘No patience at all.’ I kissed Bran softly.
Josef slipped his hands upwards and cupped my breasts.
‘Is that meant to be arousing?’ I asked, between kissing Bran’s neck.
‘It’s working for me,’ He gently tilted me back towards him, I let him. ‘Nothing for me?’
My shoulders rested against Josef’s. I kissed the side of his face. ‘Hmmm, don’t think so.’
Bran touched my hips, his gaze explored my arched body, and he swallowed. I reached back, looped my arms around Josef’s neck and stretched.
Bran kissed the base of my neck and stayed there, breathing in my scent. His hands slid down my thighs and up Josef’s. ‘You’re perfect.’ His hands settled somewhere behind us and I smiled.
‘Why don’t you tell me nice things like that, Josef?’
He kissed my ear. ‘Why don’t you?’
I wrapped my arms around Bran. ‘I’m sure you could find plenty of people to sing your perfections.’
‘Mmmm.’ Josef sighed. ‘But I’m very bad and need telling off.’
I tilted my head back and whispered, ‘And yet you never accept being told how naughty you are.’
Josef snuck his hands up Bran’s arms to his back. ‘That would be no fun.’
I laughed and nipped Bran’s ear. ‘And yet Bran can be a wicked delight without being such a bad man.’
Bran chuckled. ‘I could be bad.’
I dug my fingers into his hair. ‘I don’t think you have a bad bone in your body.’
‘I’m sure I can think of something.’
I kissed his nose. ‘Please do.’
He sighed and nuzzled my neck. ‘Can we stay here awhile?’
I kissed Bran’s temple and caressed his back. ‘As long as you want.’
He relaxed against me.
‘I think she might be some kind of empathic seer,’ Jax murmured, frowning at the contents of Millie’s sketchbook. ‘I’m not sure she’s strictly having visions, maybe she does sometimes, but I think they’re probably coming to her as she draws.’
I looked at Josef, sitting next to me at the end of the reading table, and squeezed his hand. Bran was upstairs, the victim of a child pile as he’d been reading Merry her favourite story, there’d be no escape until they decided to let him go.
‘It’s hard to say, a lot of the pictures are of family. Are they just drawings or visions?’ She tapped a pencil against the edge of the table.
I suppressed a frown, breaking the lead would be a waste of a pencil. ‘What does any of that actually mean?’
‘Oh,’ Jax said as if she’d forgot some of us didn’t know much about magic. ‘They’re a type of seer who can have visions but only of people they have an emotional connection to, or in reaction to others strong emotions. It’s a limited form of seer, a bit like how you can see the past but only your own.’
I sat back in my chair and exhaled. ‘And how do we stop her having the same problems I did?’
She frowned. ‘You want to stop her having visions?’
‘No, it’s part of who she is,’ I said. ‘I don’t want her screaming in the night unable to escape visions she has no control over.’
Jax stared at me. ‘Oh.’
‘With three vampires in the house there’s things no child should see,’ I added.
‘Um…’ Jax tapped the end of her pencil against the table. ‘How did you learn to control yours?’
‘Josef taught me how to build a memory library.’ Which, in retrospect, seemed a cruel irony for a man who’d forgot so much of his past.
Jax made a note in a little notebook beside her. ‘I haven’t actually taught anyone magic before, my mum’s a go to for magical training but I’ve never…’ She cleared her throat. ‘I don’t think mother would teach a changeling.’
‘You don’t have to.’ I leaned forward and put my hand over hers. ‘But you’re not teaching anything you don’t know.’
Her jaw set and she nodded. ‘It’s the duty of the older generation of casters to train and protect the younger generation.’
I took my hand away.
Her gaze flicked to me. ‘How do you do that?’
‘What?’ I asked.
‘You pat me on the hand and tell me I can do it and suddenly I feel like I can.’
I shrugged. If it was true, I suspected it was because I’d had plenty of practice on Bran. ‘Just being a mother, I suppose.’
‘Just being you,’ Josef said and lit a cigarette, smoking did nothing for him except giving his hands something to do. He was many things but a caster wasn’t one of them, I had no doubt he could’ve helped Merry but Jax had jumped straight in there with an offer and I wasn’t going to discourage good-heartedness. The world could do with more of it.
I got to my feet.
‘Where are you going?’ Josef asked.
‘I’m going to go and ask Frank what he meant when he told Merry she’d made an interesting purchase.’
‘Oh.’ Jax raised the sketchbook and pointed at the symbols on the leather cover with her pencil. ‘It’s an object designed to be a focus point for magic, like my staff. It doesn’t necessarily have any magic of its own, but it helps the user focus theirs. They’re very personal.’
I’d seen the kind of power Jax could wield without using her staff and made a mental note not to annoy her when she had it to hand.
‘Good to know.’ I flipped up my hood. ‘I’m still going to have a word with him. He’s pissed me off this time.’
‘Shall I could with you?’ Josef asked, which was always more of a ‘Can I come with you, please?’
I grinned. ‘Let’s make it a party.’